Merry Christmas from all at How Green Nursery!

Wishing all our customers old and new a very merry Christmas and best wishes for the year ahead!

We find ourselves a week away from Christmas day and we’re left wondering, where on earth did that year go?! Here at How Green we are busily beavering away like Santa’s elves to prepare Christmas potted arrangements. We use high quality wicker trugs and a choice of bulbs including Hyacinths and Narcissus, all then lovingly decorated with natural moss and a Christmas tag. (See our plant of the week pictures). We also have a special treat for you! Open our availability lists opposite and you’ll find the How Green Nursery Christmas quiz! 100 green fingered questions to get sunk into over the festive period. Put your brain cells to the test and send us back your answers via email. There will be prizes for those with the most correct answers!

We take a look back at the 2013 season and reflect on what has been a rollercoaster of a year! It started disastrously for us and everyone connected with the industry. A prolonged Winter with snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures made for less than favourable gardening and growing conditions. March and April, which should be two of our busiest months were a right-off . Coming off the back of a very difficult 2012 (where it didn’t stop raining), the situation was bleak.

Spring

Then in April came our first of three public open weekends. Oh how we rejoiced! The weather behaved and gardeners gave us renewed confidence by coming to the nursery in their masses! Plants were sold by the boot full and the tea and cake flowed! This was then followed by a calm spell with sun and warmth. Our stock which at one point was six weeks behind in growth caught up and it was like flicking a light switch! This was extra relief with How Green growing for a major show garden at Chelsea Flower Show for the first time! Our good friend Roger Platt’s M&G sponsored garden deservedly won gold, and we breathed a sigh of relief!

Garden centres and garden designers stepped up through the gears and suddenly the 2013 season was underway!

Summer

The fantastic weather then carried on into early Summer and further open days, both trade and public proved a hit. Our show gardens and plant stand at Penshurst Place were warmly (hotly!) received. The long Summer days continued and got the nation out into their gardens. The smell of BBQ’s hung in the air and pots and borders that had not been tended since the Summer before, were revitalised! Again, we grew for two gardens at Hampton Court Flower Show.

Autumn

Then into Autumn. Late September saw our most successful Trade Open Day to date. Gardeners, designers and garden centres took advantage of our special offers on the day and the networking opportunities were phenominal! Business cards and numbers were exchanged and our cake and biscuit tin took a real battering! Usually a time for us to grow for the following year, but something amazing happened! Our loyal and ever increasing band of garden designers took on the challenge of some major projects. This in turn left considerable holes in our stock leading to our best Autumn sales ever!

Winter

And so to Winter! A time to reflect and do maintenance round the nursery. As you can see from our last post, we are in the throws of constructing a new office and sales area. Also in the pipeline, a new Lavender tunnel. Our 2014 catalogue is being lovingly put together by the amazing Natalie Seal at Ginger & Fig in Tunbridge Wells. She’s a whizzo graphic designer and website designer, specialising in anything horticultural. The catalogue has over 300 new plants on offer to you next season, so our stock of over 4500 plants looks very exciting indeed!

Other plans for the 2014 season include more Public and Trade Open Days (dates TBA – check website for details). We are also in the process of organising some guest speakers here at the nursery. These may be evening/weekend events, or we might tie them in with our open days. We already have talks and nursery tours booked in from numerous gardening clubs and societies. Contact us for further details.

Literally hot off the press, we have been asked to grow for a Chelsea garden again next year! If we say who, we may have to kill you – details nearer the time!!

All that’s left for us to say here at How Green is Merry Christmas and a very Happy and Prosperous New Year to you all! We leave you with some scenes from our staff Christmas party last year!

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Autumnal Craft Fair!

Last weekend saw How Green make a rare public outing with our plants! We only attend three shows per year, two of them being at Penshurst Place for their Spring and then Autumn craft fairs.

We have a strong working relationship that goes back nearly thirty years with Penshurst Place, as we stock their plant stand on a weekly basis and hire our topiary for weddings in the great Barons Hall. Coupled with the venue only ten minutes from the nursery, it’s natural for us to make the annual pilgrimage!

We arrived on Thursday in blistering heat, exceeding 30oC, to build a mini show garden in conjunction with Chilstone from Fordcombe. To celebrate Chilstone’s 60th anniversary, we created a diamond shaped garden around one of their fantastic fountains that acted as the centrepiece. A local copper artist also showcased his art with a wonderful contemporary garden chair and…………..a bath! We here at How Green have never been asked to base a show garden around a bath, but there’s a first time for everything!

The planting plan used a variety of grasses and late flowering perennials to create a naturalistic, prairie style of planting. We used plenty of Echinaceas, Agastaches, Salvias and Nepeta. Within minutes of setting up the garden, it was awash with bees, hoverflies and butterflies – a truly magnificent sight! We also attended with our own plant stand, with lots of our new plants for 2014 on sale. Our display looked wonderful with our Heucheras, displaying no less than 46 different varieties!

The old saying ‘ how different one day from the next can be’ couldn’t be more apt at the show! Suffering from sunburn and dehydration from setting up the garden,  Friday slapped us in the face with……Autumn! Rain, wind and only 16oC! thankfully the weather improved on Saturday and sales were great. Sunday was again changeable, but it was great to see so many enthusiastic gardeners out there, eager to get their gardens into shape for Autumn!

This week sees a busy time at the nursery with a trade open day on Friday 13th (hope it’s not a bad omen! – see side bar) and then our last public open weekend of the year. We open our gates on Saturday 14th & Sunday 15th and a warm welcome to all to browse our strictly wholesale only nursery. Our nursery is at capacity and full to bursting with plants for the 2014 season. Many new additions on offer. If plant shopping gets all to much for you, relax in our Summer house with an array of tasty home made cakes and teas!

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Trade Only Open Days

This year for the first time, How Green Nursery are running a series of  trade only days! Those of you who already use us will know that you are more than welcome to visit the nursery at any time throughout the season. What makes these days different, is that we are offering some very special rates, but only on orders taken on the day.

Browse the nursery at your leisure and check out our stock that totals nearly 4000 different plants! A warm welcome awaits you, with wagging tails from the nursery dogs and if you’re lucky, tea and biscuits!

So if you are in the trade, a garden designer/landscaper, garden centre owner or plant nut in the trade, pop along and see us on Friday 8th & Saturday 9th March!

These are strictly trade only days and will not be open to the public.

Fear not! Those of you not in the trade, look out for our special, very limited public open weekends! Check us out for further details nearer the event.

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A New Venture!

Last week the hard working staff at How Green finished a project to rejuvenate a prominent bed in Caterham on the Hill in Surrey. Working with the town’s parish council, we scrubbed out the tired, old shrubs and bedding.

The brief was a complicated one! A low maintenance, drought tolerant garden that has all year round interest, with the wow factor! Not a particulary easy remit!!

The shape and layout of the existing bed did not need changing and in fact it is a very well thought out shape and pleasing to the eye. Not the dull rectangular shaped beds we’re used to, it is an attractive half-moon shaped crescent, with a slope not too disimilar to a plaque bed.

After several meetings with the clients and deliberation over what style to go for, we settled on a design that incorporated many grasses, hardy, drought tolerant perennials and bulbs such as Alliums. The overall effect to give a prairie, naturalistic look.

Grasses add height and structure and have been planted in drifts, in keeping with the curves of the bed. Very hardy, long flowering perennials such as Nepeta Walkers Low, Salvia Caradonna & Agastache Blue Fortune have been used. In all, over 300 plants have been used, which in time will enhance the bed.

A big problem with the site was weeds! With low maintenance in mind, we used a permeable membrane to supress any weed growth. The membrane in turn allows water to pass through to the plants and also helps moisture retention in drier periods. To complete the look a layer of decorative shingle has been used.

The centre piece of the bed is a beautiful multi-stemmed Betula jacquemontii. With it’s silvery white bark on the main stem & branches it gives fantastic Winter interest. In time it’s canopy in the Summer will give a gentle dappled shade for the two benches under it.

To add Winter structure, some evergreen shrubs have been used and colourful Cornus (Dogwoods) to break the gloom. The spent grass heads will also be left over the Winter to add height and a sparkle with frost. Aged oak has been used as a feature and  to give height and structure, especially for when the herbaceous plants become dormant.

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